April 22, 2014
RUSTON - Louisiana Tech head coach Tyler Summitt grew up around a championship culture at the University of Tennessee, watching the Lady Vols compete for a national title every year under the direction of his Hall of Fame mother Pat Summitt.
With his eyes set on returning the championship culture to Louisiana Tech, Tyler Summitt has added some more Tennessee flavor as he announced Tuesday that Bernitha Johnson and Amber Smith would join associate head coach Mickie DeMoss in rounding out his coaching staff.
Summitt announced DeMoss' hiring when he was introduced as the new Lady Techster head coach during a press conference on April 2. DeMoss lettered at Louisiana Tech during the first three years of the program's existence and has spent the past 35 as a head coach, associate head coach and assistant coach in the collegiate and professional ranks.
Johnson spent her time in Knoxville as a manager for Pat Summitt's teams for three and a half years while Smith just completed her first season as a graduate assistant for the Lady Vols.
"Bernitha is a tremendous addition to the Louisiana Tech family," Summitt said. "She is a very loyal person and is an extremely hard worker. Being from Mississippi, Bernitha has the background, knowledge and passion to dominate as our recruiting coordinator. She is a proven recruiter, having recruited multiple rookies of the year."
Johnson just completed her second season as an assistant coach at Buffalo where she helped lead the program to a 17-13 record. The recruiting coordinator for the Bulls, Johnson worked with both the posts and guards helping UB to 18 conference wins and an appearance in the MAC Tournament quarterfinals both years.
Prior to her time at Buffalo, Johnson served on the coaching staff at Binghamton University where she was hired in 2005. Johnson was promoted to associate head coach and recruiting coordinator for the Bearcats during her time with the program. She recruited a pair of America East Conference Rookie of the Year honorees and also served as the academic liaison between the team and the academic services department.
Johnson, a native of Waynesboro State, Mississippi, graduated from Tennessee in May 2005 with a bachelor's degree in sports management. In her role with the Lady Vols program, Johnson prepared game breakdowns of offenses and defenses, while assisting in film exchange, various practice drills and recruiting visits.
Smith comes to Ruston after one year as a graduate assistant at Tennessee where she assisted in a variety of areas within the program, including on-campus recruiting.
"Amber is a wonderful asset to have on our staff," Summitt said. "She is an absolute competitor in everything that she does and will definitely take that to her main role of recruiting. Having played point guard, Amber knows the leadership, passion and commitment it takes to succeed at the highest level. We are very happy to have such a genuine person as part of the program as Amber."
A native of Winter Haven, Fla., Smith was one of 50 participants chosen to attend the 11th-annual Women's Basketball Coaches Association's "So You Want To Be A Coach" program. The three-day workshop was held April of 2013 in conjunction with the WBCA National Convention in New Orleans.
She was also just one of 12 recipients of the UPLIFT Registration Scholarship, sponsored by the NCAA. The scholarship enabled her to attend "A Step Up Fort Lauderdale 2014," a professional development symposium for aspiring young basketball assistant coaches.
"I am humbled, honored and excited for the opportunity to coach at Louisiana Tech," Smith said. "I am also very excited about getting a chance to work with Coach Summitt and the rest of the staff. I am grateful to be a part of a program with such great history and I'm ready to get started."
Smith played point guard collegiately at the University of Kentucky (2008-12) where she was a member of one of the most successful senior classes in UK hoops history. Despite undergoing knee surgeries on both knees, she concluded her career having played in 123 games while making 109 starts.
She averaged 7.0 points and 3.4 assists per game during her time in Lexington and helped UK advance to four consecutive postseason tournaments, including three straight NCAA Tournament appearances and two Elite Eights.
Smith, the recipient of the Steve & Kaye Maynard Women's Basketball Graduate Assistant Scholarship, ranks No. 6 on UK's all-time list for games played (123) and assists (425), and she is No. 8 in assists per game (3.5). The 2008 SEC All-Freshman Team and SEC Academic Honor Roll member graduated with a bachelor of art degree in integrated strategic communications in May of 2011.
Summitt said that in addition to their main role of recruiting, Johnson and Smith would both help with on-court coaching, skill development and scouting.
Their hiring is pending the approval of the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System.